The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth/Afterbirth can be incredibly difficult. Follow these tips to make the game a bit easier:
1. Destroy "X marks the spot" rocks.
If you find a rock with a small X on it, destroy it. There's treasure inside. Gamesiarz wrote a great post about it, here.
2. Use an item/trinket guide.
There are hundreds of great (and not-so-great) items in this game. Don’t waste your time memorizing them all. Use the guide at PlatinumGod.
3. Find the Secret/Super Secret rooms.
Secret rooms connect at least two non-boss rooms. Super Secret rooms are only attached to one non-boss room.
This Secret Room (pictured below) connects the rooms above, beneath, and to the right of it. Before wasting a bomb on an entrance to what you think is a Secret Room, check the other rooms that would connect to it from the other side. If there is no way to access the supposed Secret Room from at least one other entrance, the Secret Room is not there. Sometimes, what’s on the opposite side is covered in rocks, or there’s a big gaping hole where you can’t stand. If there’s no entrance, it’s a good clue that the Secret Room is somewhere else.
Since Secret Rooms connect at least two non-boss rooms, you can often blast your way into a store, Library, or Item room, if they’re connected to a secret room and you’re low on keys.
Finding Super Secret Rooms isn’t as difficult as it seems. Since they only share one wall with another non-boss room, Super Secret Rooms can’t fit everywhere. In the picture below, I’ve placed arrows in all the possible locations where a Super Secret Room may be, judging by the map alone.
Once the possibilities have been identified, you can go to each location and see if the entrance isn’t being blocked by anything. Barricades will help you eliminate possible locations and narrow your choices.
4. Use bomb marks as breadcrumbs.
If you guess wrong at the location of a Secret or Super Secret Room, you don’t want to forget the spots you’ve already wasted a bomb on. Luckily, bombs leave char marks on the floors where they’ve exploded. Use the marks to help you remember the places you’ve already tried, and don’t try there again.
5. Secret/Super Secret Room doors are opposite other doors.
If you’re in a room with a really long wall, and you think there might be a Secret/Super Secret Room on the other side of that wall, where exactly do you place your bomb? You’ve got a lot of wall to cover. The Secret doorway will be in line with the doorway on the opposite wall. If you need help, walk across the room to where a doorway exists, then walk in a straight line to the other side of the room where you think the Secret/Super Secret Room might be, then place your bomb there.
6. Leave the room if extra enemies appear.
If you clear a room, then decide to bomb some pots, sometimes spiders will jump out. You don’t have to kill the spiders; just leave the room and come back. The spiders will be gone. The same thing applies to the Arcade. If you’re in the Arcade playing the Shell Game, chances are, you’regoing to choose incorrectly most of the time. When you pick the wrong skull, an enemy fly will appear. If you exit the Arcade, then return, the fly will go away.
7. Save your bombs.
Sometimes, you’ll come across an “X marks the spot” rock, a Stone Chest, or an entrance to a Secret/Super Secret Room. If there’s also an enemy in the room who can make things explode, or a nearby TNT barrel, use one of them instead. You can save some bombs by letting the enemy explode mushrooms, open entrances, open Stone Chests,.etc. And if you’re in a room with some Stone Chests and a TNT barrel, push the Chests near the barrel, or vice versa, then shoot the barrel. BOOM! Your chests are now open, sans bombs.
8. Use bombs to push items.
Sometimes, items are sitting in the middle of a room just waiting for you to pick them up, but there are spikes all around them. And you don’t want to step on the spikes! If you have a bomb, you can place it near the spikes, then let the explosion push it to a safer location. For a greater challenge, place two bombs near each other, using the first bomb to push the second bomb to push the item.
9. Use Active Items you don’t plan to keep.
Let’s say you’ve got the Active Item: Tammy’s Head, which is one of my favorites, but you come across the Active Item: Guppy’s Head. If you’re like me and prefer Tammy’s Head over Guppy’s Head, you can still get one use out of Guppy’s Head. Pick it up, use it once to generate some flies, then pick up Tammy’s Head again. This applies to a lot of items. Don’t waste the opportunity.
10. Drop the stuff you don’t want.
There’s a drop button. Hold it, and you’ll drop your trinkets, pills, and cards. Why walk around with an amnesia pill you’re trying not to accidentally swallow, or a trinket that’s giving you more trouble than it’s worth? If you have Mom’s Toenail and you’re trying to play an arcade machine, a large foot might descend from the sky, crushing you and the game! Drop that junk asap, play the game, then pick it back up if you feel like it. That’s what I do.
Have you ever come across a 2 dice room? It re-rolls all the items in the room. Well, what if there aren’t any items in the room? Go pick up some items and drop them in the room. Chances are, there are plenty of pills and cards on the floor that you don’t want: Amnesia, Health Down, Paralysis, Range Down, The Tower, R U A Wizard,…etc. Go pick ‘em up and drop them in the 2 Dice room. Once they’re all there, roll ‘em!
11. Drop the stuff you DO want.
The Rune Jera can duplicate items in the room. If you have Jera, and you find a nice item you want duplicated, clear the rest of the floor first. You might find another item you want duplicated. If you do find more than one item you want duplicated, pick them up and drop them in the same room, then use Jera on them all. More more better better.
12. Regeneration takes time.
Items like the Placenta “regenerate health over time”. Yeah? How much time? Exactly one minute per half-heart. That’s two minutes for a whole heart. And it only regenerates one heart per room. If you’re low on health but have time and a regenerative item, stand in a room for a couple minutes, then another room… and another. You can repeat this process between two rooms. Just go back and forth.
13. There are two holes…in the floor.
Okay. You already know that a hole opens in the floor after you defeat the floor boss. That hole takes you to the next level. But there are holes that take you to floors between floors, and you can return from those floors. There’s a simple way to identify the two: one has a ladder and the other does not. The ones with the ladders allow you to climb down to the sub-floor, find some nice items, then climb back up. The ones without ladders just go down. It pays to notice the difference between the two. I usually avoid the Shovel item (which lets you dig a hole to the next floor), because I like to defeat the floor boss and gain the items that appear after the boss fight. Other items like the Rune Ehwaz can do this as well, but Ehwaz can also take you to the sub-floor. I used to avoid Ehwaz Runes the same as the Shovel item, until I noticed that the runes sometimes opened holes with ladders. Ladders are nice. If it has a ladder, use it.
14. Save the Joker Card until after the boss fight.
The Joker Card buys your way into the Devil/Angel Room. But sometimes, the room will spawn after you defeat the boss. Why pay for the room if there’s a chance you’ll get it for free? If you have the Joker Card, save it until after you defeat the boss. Then you’ll know if you can save the card for the next floor.
15. Don’t rush to use doubler cards.
The 2 of Hearts, 2 of Spades, 2 of Clubs, and 2 of Diamonds double your Hearts, Keys, Bombs, and Coins, respectively. Wait until it makes sense to use them. For example, if you have the 2 of Clubs card and 8 bombs, using the card will give you a total of 16 bombs. But if you don’t need to use a bomb, don’t use the card. Wait until you need to use a bomb before you double your bombs.
If you used the card when you had 8 bombs, then doubled to 16 bombs, you may have went on to find another 5 bombs before needing to use one. You will have had 21 bombs at that moment. On the other hand, if you had the 8 bombs, then found the 2 of Clubs and waited, then found the other 5 bombs, you could have doubled at 13 bombs for a grand total of 26 bombs.
A similar truth applies on the high end of your inventory. Let’s say you have 90 coins, then you find the 2 of Diamonds Card (which doubles your coins). If you use the card right away, you’ll max your coins to 99. Nice job maxing out your cash, but you actually just lost money.
If you had 90 coins, then found the 2 of Diamonds, you should have saved the card until you spent all but 50 coins. Then you could have doubled it back to 99 coins. If you didn’t do the math, the difference between the two scenarios is a whole lotta money.
Got tips for us? Leave a comment and help us out!